Workers Comp Zone


There are few groups other than firefighters who are as popular as nurses.

In California, nurses have become an important political force.

Nurses were one of the groups who took the lead in Democratic party efforts to challenge the gubernatorial campaign of Meg Whitman. Nurses had a bus that traveled the state, dogging the “Queen Meg” campaign.

Hundreds of nurses picketed Whitman’s Atherton home.

The nurses are now backing Assembly bill 375,carried by Nancy Skinner of Berkeley.

That bill would apply to hospital employees who provide direct patient care in acute care hospitals. AB 375 would define injury to make it presumed that back or neck injuries, infectious diseases transmitted by blood, and MRSA staph infections are work related, arising out of and in the course of employment.

In the case of bloodborne infections, the presumption would be extended to a hospital employee following termination of service for a period of 180 days, commencing with the last date actually worked.

For neck and back conditions, the presumption would be extended to a hospital employee following termination of service for a period of 90 days, commencing with the last day actually worked.

The presumptions would be disputable and could be controverted by other evidence, “but unless so controverted, the appeals board shall so find.”

Firefighters and police officers have a presumption that cancer is work related (Labor Code 3212.1). Certain public safety officers have presumptions where there is “heart trouble”. Others, such as the California Highway Patrol, have presumpions that pneumonia is work related (Labor Code 3212.3). UC Fire Department employees share some of these presumptions, as well as a presumption that hernias are work related (Labor Code 3212.4).

Sherriff department employees and police and fire employees have a presumption that blood-borne infections or MRSA are work related (Labor Code 3212.8)

And peace officeers, probation officers, DA investigators and firefighters who contract meningitis are presumed to have acquired it at work (Labor Code 3219.9).

Moreover, Lyme disease is presumed industrial for certain specified peace officers (Labor Code 3212.2).

Clearly there is legislative precedent for extending presumptions to groups, though in most all these cases it is extended to public safety officers.

A similar bill was proposed in 2010, AB 1994. That bill survived one Assembly committee vote, but was thereafter held without further action.

This year, AB 375 passed from Assembly Insurance on April 13 on an 8-4 vote. The bill is now at Assembly Appropriations, where it was held last year.

Here is a link to the legislative analysis on the current version of AB 375: … _comm.html

Unsurprisingly, there is stiff opposition, particularly from some of the public entity hospitals and clinics. Here is a summary of the debate surrounding the bill in a piece from the San Francisco Examiner, titled “Expanding Workers’ Comp Benefit to Nurses Could Cost San Francisco”: … ld-cost-sf

Currently, it’s unclear whether the Brown administration plans to support the bill.

Here is a link to the 2010 bill, AB 1994: … sm_v98.pdf

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments